Albany Panthers fans say losing team could hurt city - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany Panthers fans say losing team could hurt city

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William Ross, Albany Resident / Panthers Fan William Ross, Albany Resident / Panthers Fan
Leroy Smith, Albany Resident / Panthers Fan Leroy Smith, Albany Resident / Panthers Fan
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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Some Albany Panthers fans worry the loss of the city's indoor football team will hurt the area's economic growth.  The city terminated its contract with the Panthers because the team owed the city money.

Fans say Panthers games were one of the few positive attractions in the city.  They worry losing the team could keep businesses and residents from locating here. 

Albany football fans loved their Panthers.  But the team won't play in 2014 because it breached its contract with the city. 

"This is the first I've heard of it today.  That's sad.  I don't even really know how to take that," said Matthew Allen, Albany Resident. 

City leaders said the team owed $12,000 for three months rent at the Civic Center, claiming none of the $4,000 payments for December 2013, January and February of this year were received.  They also said the team hadn't made any concession payments since February of 2013. 

"It's sad for Albany, but at the same time, you know, the city got to move forward, you know, and try other things," said William Ross, Albany Resident / Panthers Fan. 

Team owner Rod Chappell told us the city manager told him on January 27th he had 30 days to pay his debt.  City Manager James Taylor refused to appear on camera, but denied Chappell's claim. 

Meanwhile, fans are disheartened to lose the team.  "I would like for the city of Albany to be more of a supporting element in games and organizations of the panthers," said Leroy Smith, Albany Resident / Panthers Fan. 

Others weren't surprised by the news.

"Finally the city said they still left owing some money.  And I said, oh, I know where this is going," said Ross. 

But losing another attraction, some said, could keep businesses and future residents from relocating to Albany.  "If it's a boring city, why would you want to live here?  There's plenty of places people can go, they don't have to come here.  We can't be losing everything that comes in," said Allen. 

Residents said they hope the city will do more to attract and support future teams.  Some suggested adopting a quarter of a percent sales tax to support related activities.  

"Explicitly toward an entertainment or an attractive feature, or you know to support organizations who come here as well as to give them the foot hold to be able to stay here,"  said Smith.

Commissioner Roger Marietta said the team cost the city about $100,000 a year in subsidized rent and other support.

The city attorney's office sent a letter to Mr. Chappell, saying the city reserves the right to bring legal action against the team if they don't pay their debt.  

 

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